Growing up I was lucky enough to have my mother and two grandmothers who like to cook. These women made wonderful, homemade meals as well as inspiring me in the kitchen. Each one of them were very different cooks but one thing they all had in common ~ they liked cooking with cast iron skillets.
Antique vendors research the history of the skillet by finding a number on the skillet. There is a case in which you may see a small raised number, letter, or group of letters on a pan. These were added to the mold at the time of the casting, and are known as “molder’s marks” as opposed to “maker’s marks” which were incised.
Many cast iron aficionados swear that older is definitely better. Better as in more durable, conducts heat more evenly, and withstands arduous conditions. While cast iron skillets continue to be made from the same material no matter what the era, production methods have changed as demand increased.
Myself I had never been a big fan of cooking with cast iron skillets until recently. Setting up my own home years ago, I went the route of choosing several options as stainless steel, teflon and aluminum. They each had their good and bad traits but I quickly learn which ones I preferred that were easy for clean up, light to handle and had eye appeal to me. Today I’ve added a few cast iron pieces to my collections and love them!
I’m really not sure why I never got into Cast Iron before this time, maybe because there were so many myths out there that held me back.
Myth #1: “Cast iron is difficult to maintain.” Myth #2: “You should NEVER wash your cast iron pan with soap.” Myth #3: “Don’t use metal utensils on your cast iron pan!” .” Myth #4: “Never cook acidic foods in cast iron.
Where do you begin with clean up?
Clean up really is easy, as well as I like to take advantage of the ambience and serve my the meal in the cast iron pan. I do have to say, we have a rule at our house – if you cook dinner you don’t have to do the clean up. So when I cook, my husband Brian is on clean up duty and vice a versa.
When its my husbands turn to clean up and we have used a cast iron skillet in preparation, he likes doing the kosher salt clean up process. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel, add a heaping tablespoon of kosher salt in the center of the skillet, rub the salt around a few times and then dispose the salt in the trash. Follow with a wipe down of your pan using another paper towel spreading a light coating of oil to keep it preserved and seasoned. It’s ok whatever route you go, just get using it and you too will learn how easy it is.
So lets move on! There are several internet sites to learn more about cooking with cast iron. Take the time to research and become a savvy cast iron chef! Just think, our parents, grandparents never had the internet, they just dove in cooking with their kitchen wares. Our grandmothers became pros in the kitchen cooking with cast iron skillets. How wonderful for us they left behind beautiful memories, lovely recipes and a heirloom for us to keep and enjoy.
Any pizza lovers out there?
- ▢ 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- ▢ 1 packet rapid rise yeast
- ▢ 2 teaspoons salt
- ▢ 1 cup warm water
- ▢ 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided (2 tbsp + 3 tbsp)
- ▢ Any combo of toppings!
- In a mixing bowl or pot, add the flour, yeast, and salt. Briefly mix with a fork to distribute the ingredients.
- Add the warm water and 2 tablespoons oil to the dry ingredients and mix with a fork until the ingredients begin to form a dough.
- Knead the dough a few times (you can do this in the bowl or on a lightly floured surface) so that all the ingredients are well incorporated and the dough comes together.
- Cover the dough and let it rise for 20 minutes.
- After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a cutting board and divide the dough into two equal pieces.
- To form the crust, add 1 tablespoon oil into a preheated 10″ (for a thicker crust) or 12″ (for a thinner crust) cast iron skillet and swirl to coat the surface. Place one of the dough halves in the skillet, and using your fingers, press and push the dough towards the edges of the skillet. Drizzle 1/2 tablespoon oil along the edge of the skillet.
- Place the skillet on a grate over your campfire, or on your camp stove at fairly high heat. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the bottom has firmed up and begins to turn golden brown (you’ll want to lift the side up around the 3 minute mark to see how it’s doing and determine how much longer it should remain on the heat).
- Pull the skillet off the fire and place on a heat-safe surface. The skillet will be HOT, so take care with the next few steps.
- Using a pair of tongs, lift the crust out of the skillet and flip it so the uncooked side is face down in the skillet. Add your toppings, cover the pizza with a cast iron lid if you have one or a sheet of foil, and return the skillet to your campfire or stove.
- Cook the pizza for an additional 3-5 minutes until the bottom is golden brown. Remove the lid/foil after a few minutes, once the cheese has melted, to let the steam escape for the remainder of the cooking time.
- Remove the skillet from the heat, carefully transfer the pizza to a plate, and repeat with the second half of the dough.
Looking for an easy dessert?
Love smore’s? You can really tap into your own creativity with this recipe and add your own twist! I used a chocolate bark with almonds and also substituted graham crackers with almond cookies. It made for a fun dessert that everyone dived into!
Individual brownies ~
Your guests or family will be so impressed you took the time to make them a personal size brownie. Again, use your imagination to add your own toppings! Nuts, chocolate, Carmel’s, marshmallows or fruit ~ the sky is the limit to encourage your guests to build their own brownie topping.
No limitations ~
The cast-iron skillet is a classic for a reason: you can make almost anything in it. This next website is from Epicurious, one of my “go to” sites when searching for new recipes. This site has many recipes to choose from. Just have fun and experiment!
Still more questions? Here are few Internet sites to help ~
And the list goes on and on to explore any and every question you might have. Really!
Need more reasons to dig out that old cast iron pan or possibly purchase a new one?
I hope you will give “Cast Iron Skillets” a try. You will be amazed how easy and adventurous it really is! Happy cooking ~
Please share your comments or recipes for all of us “Cast Iron Foodies” out here. We would love to hear your stories ~